“Let us remember that the path of holiness implies trust and abandonment,” for when Blessed Maria Antonia arrived in Buenos Aires, she did so with only a crucifix and barefoot, “because she had not placed her security in herself, but in God, trusting that her arduous apostolate was His work.”
The Pope offered this reminder on Friday as he met in the Vatican with pilgrims from Argentina who are in Rome for the canonisation of Blessed Maria Antonia of Saint Joseph de Paz y Figueroa.
Known as Mama Antula, the Argentine-born nun founded the House for Spiritual Exercises of Buenos Aires. The soon-to-be canonised saint was born in 1730 in Silipica, Santiago del Estero, and died on 7 March 1799 in the Argentinian capital.
Mama Antula is not a household name in the United States, but that might change; there was a time when very few people had heard of saints like Kateri Tekakwitha and Maximilian Kolbe, who are now among the best-loved saints among Catholics in this country. She was an active, vigorous social force during her lifetime, something unusual for religious sisters in South America at the time; in this way she is a bit similar to St. Catherine of Siena, although Catherine was never a vowed religious.
The canonization will take place tomorrow, Sunday, February 11, in St. Peter’s Square; as Vatican News points out, this is the anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition to St. Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes. This canonization comes in the context of Pope Francis tentatively planning a visit to his native country as well. Time will tell what else 2024 has in store for Francis’s relationship with Argentina and its other Catholic luminaries.
Nathan Turowsky is a native New Englander and now lives in Upstate New York. A lifelong fascination with religious ritual led him into first the Episcopal Church and then the Catholic Church. An alumnus of Boston University School of Theology and one of the relatively few Catholic alumni of that primarily Wesleyan institution, he is unmarried and works in the nonprofit sector. He writes at Silicate Siesta.